Long before close reading and rigorous texts were made popular by our CCS, schoolchildren memorized poems such as John McCrae's In Flanders Fields. They knew it honored soldiers lost in war and thought of the poem when they saw veterans offering paper poppies to anyone willing to donate to the VFW. In the days before "visualizing" texts was popularized, most of us had a clear image of the poppies dancing in the spring breeze between endless rows of crosses. The poem, which depicts the ravages of war, was written by a doctor whose own life was marred by the loss of life in a WWI (spring 1915) battle. For me, at least, the poem has forever connected poppies and cemeteries, sadness, and death.
Now I know that poppies are the only flower that will only grow in "rooted up" soil. The seeds will lie on the ground for years and will not root until the soil is dug up, as it was for graves in the aftermath of the Great War, the one men, in vain, hoped would be the war to end all wars. Perhaps, I have been wrong about poppies for all these years. Perhaps they represent the strength to carry on after great tragedy? Perhaps they represent the strength we need to live in a world where there still, nearly 100 years later are wars?